Marina Otero

Advisor: Felicity Scott

MS.CCCP 2013

Evanescent Institutions: Towards the Construction of a Global Democratic Imaginary

In 2011, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, an institution known for its creation of an international network of landmark museums, inaugurated –together with luxury car-maker BMW– a new cultural institution: The BMW Guggenheim Lab.

Rather than taking the form of a museum, the Lab was, instead, a “combination of think tank, public forum, and community center,” intended to bring programming out of the institutional space and to a wider audience [1].  To this end, the BMW Guggenheim Lab was designed not only as a temporary and mobile structure, but also as a “Major New Global Initiative” stretching out over nine cities, and for the duration of six years, with three successive themes and architectural structures [6]. 

It might be polemically argued that the BMW Guggenheim Lab represents the emergence of a new paradigm for cultural institutions, offering a precedent for how they could affect the cultural, social and political environment through new means of circulation, methods of financing, and an expanded concept of participation [7]. 

The ambition of this thesis is, therefore, to inquire into and speculate on this paradigm shift (if any), its political implications, its territories and its imaginaries.

[1] Guggenheim. Press Release August 2, 2011:“BMW Guggenheim Lab Opens Aug 3 in New York, Launching Six-Year Worldwide Tour.” Last modified August 2, 2011. http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/press-room/releases/4200-bglaug2.
[2] As David van der Leer, curator of the project, stated: “It is more and more essential for museums to bring their architecture and design programming out of the confines of the gallery's white box and into the realities of everyday urban life.” Guggenheim. Press Release October 1, 2010: “Guggenheim Foundation and BMW Group Announce a Major New Global Initiative. BMW Guggenheim Lab.” Last modified October 1, 2010.
[3] Maria Nicanor, curator of the project, on the Lab: “As a "box of ideas," the Lab encourages participants not only to contribute to the conversation about urban space, but also to acquire the skills to live in cities comfortably and responsibly.” BMW Guggenheim Lab website. Accessed September 21, 2012: http://www.bmwguggenheimlab.org/multimedia/media/112?library_id=1

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